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China Daily Website

Ministry urges US, EU to stop 'politicizing' Chinese trade

Updated: 2012-11-21 22:37
By Ding Qingfen ( China Daily)

Trade protectionism targeting China will continue to be "severe" unless developed markets — especially the United States and the European Union — stop politicizing trade investigations into made-in-China goods, a senior commerce official has warned.

"The situation remains challenging and complicated," said Zhou Xiaoyan, head of the Bureau of Fair Trade for Imports & Exports at the Ministry of Commerce.

"More and more high-end Chinese exports, such as telecom goods, are getting embroiled in trade investigations, and this will continue," she said.

Trade conflicts between China and developed economies have escalated this year, with investigations now taking place on various types of goods, but most notably solar panels.

China has been a major target of anti-dumping investigations for the past 17 years, and a target of anti-subsidy cases for the past six years.

According to the ministry, a total of 758 trade cases worth $68.4 billion were filed against Chinese exporters from 2003 to the end of September.

Zhou added: "The US and the EU have started to resort more frequently to filing trade investigations to fend off competition for their own industries and businesses, and they will continue to politicize any trade frictions with China."

During the recent US presidential election campaign, trade with China took center stage, with Republican candidate Mitt Romney accusing President Barack Obama of adopting too soft a trade stance toward China, vowing to label the nation a "currency manipulator" if he won the election.

In October, the US announced it was to impose sharply higher tariffs on solar cells imported from China for the next five years, in response to a case filed last year by SolarWorld Industries America.

China criticized the move, saying it will hurt trade relations and provoke further trade friction.

"The end of the US presidential election does not mean the US will loosen its restrictions on the Chinese exports, but unfortunately, our forecast is not positive," said Han Yong, a division cheif of the ministry's Bureau of Fair Trade for Imports & Exports.

"We will probably see trade conflicts between China and the US grow in the coming months", while US economic growth falters, he said.

Lawmakers recently urged the US Congress to conduct an investigation into Chinese telecom equipment makers Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corp.

Commerce Minister Chen Deming accused Washington in response, of a "Cold War" mentality for claiming that Beijing was involved in cyber espionage.

Zhou added that in Europe too, officials are stepping up their challenge of China's trade practices as countries struggle with an ongoing debt crisis.

Early this month, the EU announced it was launching an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese exports.

The announcement dealt a serious blow to Chinese solar panel exporters, given that 60 percent of China's exports of panels and components went to the EU last year.

In his report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Hu Jintao, general secretary of the 17th CPC Central Committee, said that China should appropriately address such trade frictions through consultation, seek further liberalization of international trade and investment, and fight trade protectionism.

Chong Quan, the Ministry of Commerce spokesman on trade negotiations, said this week that China, and Chinese exports in particular, will have to continue to face the challenge of rising trade protectionism.

And this, combined with other factors such as shrinking overseas demand and fierce global competition, will hurt the growth of China's foreign trade.

Economists have warned that the global economy could continue on a rocky road into 2013. Latest figures showed the US economy grew at a tepid 2 percent in the third quarter, and the last quarter is expected to be even weaker.